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Your Healthy Family: The most common forms of aphasia

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2023-02-23 14:38:08-05

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Earlier this week, when actor Bruce Willis was diagnosed with aphasia, it may have been the first time you heard the term. In our next story, Dr. Manhart will talk about the cases of aphasia that can be treated and those that can’t.

Dr. Andrea Manhrt, DO is a neurologist with UCHealth Memorial Hospital who tells me aphasia is a condition that affects our ability to communicate. It can affect our speech as well as the way we write and our ability to comprehend verbal or written communication.

Dr. Manhart says, “There are multiple types of aphasia. The most common is expressive aphasia where you have trouble getting words out. There’s also comprehensive aphasia where you have trouble understanding what other people are telling you. Also, there is global aphasia that encompasses both where patients have trouble getting their words out as well as comprehending what others are saying.”

Aphasia happens in a certain part of the brain says Dr. Manhart, “In the left frontal lobe is an area called the Broca’s area and it deals with the expression of speech so getting your words out. In the left temporal gyrus is the comprehension area called Wernicke's, and we have the archeo fasciculus that connects both and allows us to both express our speech as well as comprehend what’s being said to us.”

Aphasia can come on slowly, over time due to dementia, but that’s less common. Dr. Manhart says, “There are a lot of different causes of aphasia. Common things that we see in the neurology world are stroke, brain tumor, abscesses, infections, dementia, and traumatic brain injury.”

So what can you do to reduce your chances of suffering from Aphasia? Dr. Manhart says focusing on, “Heart health and brain health, including controlling your vascular risk factors is important to prevent stroke, and that can cause aphasia. In fact, that’s typically one of the most common reasons we see aphasia - is stroke.”

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